It can sometimes be hard for the golden boys to really shine. Lagers, pilsners, kolches… each – despite their generally easy-drinking experiences and light, sprite bodies – can easily come across as simple by virtue of their own lighter characters. Reminiscent of the watery domestic commercial varieties most begin sipping as their introduction to beer in the US, these lightweight brews often offer up little in the way of sophistication or dynamic flavor.
However as you get into craft and specialty brews, and begin following the seasonal and specialty trends, every so often something comes across your palate that does a fine job of blowing these conventional notions clean out of the water. Such is the case with Shipyard’s Imperial Pilsner.
Still light in body and feel, this golden pint, which comes to us as part of Shipyard’s signature series, possesses the varied characteristics expected of a brew to bear the name “imperial.” With a nose of spice and subtle yeasty brightness, it offers a rich and sweet immediate flavor which settles delicately into a noble, dry aftertaste. With subtle hints of bitterness, stemming from its 60 IBU rating, the notes of malty sweetness are complemented well by way of the three varieties of hops used to create this brew.
With a mouthfeel somewhat heavier than one might expect from a pilsner, which exists typically in the lighter end of the spectrum, the dancing notes of pepper and zest seem almost elevated upon the sturdy foundation of malt and demure booziness. Coming in at 8.7% abv, the contents of the pint promise to be enough to inspire a delightful sense of mental limberness without going overboard or causing much of a fuss.
Herein perhaps is the fun wonder of the imperial pilsner which, by virtue of its embellished crafting, allows for the unobtrusive pleasure of a summertime sipper, while still providing the fullness and robust qualities expected of a special brew.
Between its golden color, its spicy forward notes, its enticing clean aroma and crystal clear appearance, this brew can be easily mistaken for a run-of-the-mill watery simpleton of a beer. However the surprise and pleasant affirmation that comes from the first and subsequent sips allows for what can easily be a quiet personal indulgence, as this sleeper cell spy of a brew makes its nature more thoroughly known.
Just three quarters of the way through this pint and already the mind massage of a healthy abv is making itself apparent to me, with the spiced notes of a low SRM (standard reference measurement) brew and altogether summery disposition maintaining a facade of simplicity which I’m quite well aware of, but about which, I simply don’t care. Beneath this, I find the malt, both Pilsner and Munich, which serve to sweeten this brew so well. And when combined with the delightful tingling nature of its texture and overall fullness of body, this Imperial Pilsner becomes something that I will make note to drink again myself, so long as it lasts in production.
Nicholas Goroff is a beer lover, writer, actor, ex-political professional and devoted anti-ideologue. Follow him on Twitter @wizardofcause.
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